Identifying 4 Disturbing Causes of Nail Biting and Effective Treatment Methods

With appropriate treatment and support, it’s possible to conquer this habit and enhance your overall health and well-being.

4 Alarming Causes & Treatment Of Nail Biting
4 Alarming Causes & Treatment Of Nail Biting

Nail biting, scientifically termed onychophagia, is a prevalent habit observed worldwide. Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology indicates that nail biting impacts approximately 30% of children and young adults, and up to 45% of teenagers. This habit can lead to embarrassment and various adverse effects, such as infections, nail deformities, and dental issues.

This article aims to delve into the root causes of nail biting and present available treatments, empowering individuals to comprehend and overcome this habit effectively.

Factors Contributing to Nail Biting

Nail biting, while commonly linked with stress, anxiety, and boredom, can be influenced by various factors.

1. Psychological factors

Nail biting may serve as an indicator of an underlying psychological condition, including anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Individuals grappling with these conditions might resort to nail biting as a temporary coping mechanism. Additionally, stressful circumstances such as exams, social gatherings, or work-related pressures can act as triggers for this habit.

2. Genetics

Research indicates a potential genetic aspect to nail biting. Individuals with a family history of nail biting might have an increased likelihood of developing this habit themselves.


3. Perfectionism

Perfectionists may resort to nail biting as a means to alleviate anxiety or stress. Their inclination towards perfectionism might lead them to feel compelled to maintain immaculate nails, driving them to bite their nails in pursuit of this perfection.

4. Disorder of sensory processing

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is characterized by challenges in the brain’s processing of sensory information. Individuals with SPD may resort to nail-biting as a means to regulate their sensory input.

Treatment options

If nail biting is a concern for you, there are numerous treatment options to consider. Below are some of the most effective approaches:

1. Behavioural therapy

Behavioral therapy encompasses various techniques aimed at modifying an individual’s behavior. When addressing nail biting, therapists may employ strategies such as habit reversal training, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or exposure therapy. Through these approaches, individuals can identify triggers that prompt nail biting and learn effective strategies to manage and ultimately overcome this behavior.

Behavioural therapy

2. Medications

Sometimes, medications like antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs might be prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with underlying psychological conditions that could be contributing to nail biting.

3. Techniques for self-improvement

Numerous methods can aid in overcoming nail biting habits:

1. Maintain short, tidy nails to diminish the urge to bite.
2. Apply bitter-tasting nail polish or wear gloves as deterrents.
3. Recognize and steer clear of triggers like stress, boredom, or anxiety.
4. Substitute nail biting with alternative behaviors like using a stress ball or chewing gum.
5. Reinforce positive behavior by rewarding yourself for refraining from nail biting.

4. Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy, utilizing hypnosis as a therapeutic tool, is effective in addressing various conditions, including nail biting. It aims to cultivate positive habits, behaviors, and alleviate anxiety and stress levels.

Nail biting, a prevalent habit, can lead to negative consequences. Understanding its root causes and exploring treatment options is crucial for overcoming it and enhancing overall well-being. Seeking assistance from a healthcare professional can provide the necessary support to overcome nail biting effectively.